Astronomers have discovered the brightest planet yet. The planet reflects so much light that it actually acts as a kind of mirror. The planet poses a mystery to scientists.
Scientists write this in the magazine. Astronomy and Astrophysics. This is the planet LTT-9779b (the small dot to the right of the image at the top of this article). It is located in the Milky Way, about 264 light years from Earth. The planet belongs to the Sculptor constellation, which is only visible from Earth to a very limited extent.
LTT-9779b is a so-called exoplanet. They are planets that revolve around a star other than our sun. LTT-9779b reflects at least 80 percent of the light from that star and is therefore compared to a mirror. It is the brightest planet we have ever seen. In comparison, Earth reflects about a third of the sun’s light and Venus reflects three-quarters.
Because the planet is close to its star, it is also very hot. According to lead researcher James Jenkins, it’s so hot that all metals are melting and floating around the planet in clouds of glass and titanium, among other things.
This last one in particular poses a mystery to astronomers. “This planet should not exist. Such an atmosphere is often washed away by its star, leaving only rock,” says co-researcher Vivien Parmentier.
On the surface, LTT-9779b can reach temperatures of around 2,000 degrees Celsius. That should be too warm for clouds of any material or element. The European Space Agency (ESA) is investigating the planet further to find out how this is possible.
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